(RepublicanView.org) – Technology has grown by leaps and bounds since the 18th-Century Industrial Revolution, which relied on steam-powered machinery to advance much of the world into a new era. Constant innovation has led to new advances at nearly every turn, and humanity now stands at the brink of yet another massive jump.
The Tech Revolution springboards off breakthroughs from previous discoveries and inventions, using software in ways that could have only existed in fiction a few years ago. Experts foresee exciting changes ahead, but they might also need to overcome a few challenges.
The world is at a crossroads. Welcome to the next era in technology.
Scientists have been at the task of creating true artificial intelligence (AI) since the early 1950s, when computers were still in their infancy, and by the ’70s, they were well on their way. By 1997, IBM’s “Deep Blue” chess-playing program was able to defeat grandmaster Gary Kasparov. Dragon Systems speech recognition software launched the same year. By the 2000s, smart homes were a reality.
Today, AI applications could fuel everything from self-driving cars to sentient robots. In the future, AI might replace medical diagnostics, help create strategies against climate change, and improve online algorithms.
Researchers still have a long way to go in cracking the accurate sentience code. If they finally do find the means, they may need to take precautions to ensure they aren’t launching Skynet (the sentient futuristic AI system from the Terminator movies that sought to wipe out humanity), but advances so far have been impressive.
The earliest concept for virtual reality (VR) came in 1838 with the Stereoscope, an early picture viewer that would later inspire the Viewmaster. In the late ’80s, VPL Research founder, Jaron Lanier, invented the first prototype for what would become modern VR. The unit consisted of goggles and gloves similar to NASA’s Virtual Interface Environment Workstation, or VIEW system.
VR takes contemporary users into true-to-life experiences that would put Lanier’s unit to shame. For example, Oculus users can enter video games they once could only play on their television screens and observe foreign lands and mountaintops without a day of travel, visit virtual museums and bypass the lines, or even hang out with friends in virtual chat rooms.
Nanotechnology is any scientific or engineering advancement that involves particles measuring in nanometers, which is nearly at the atomic level. To put the scale in perspective, it takes 25,400,000 nanometers to create an inch. About 20 years in the making, this technology became possible with the invention of high-powered microscopes in the 1980s.
Matter works differently on an atomic level, so nanotechnology has opened doors to exciting new applications in antibacterial, anti-scratch, anti-fog, stain-resistant, and light-weight material production. In the future, nanotechnology will drive more effective manufacturing with the need for fewer resources, improving medicine, engineering, aeronautics, electronics and more.
This new technology may have some risks, and researchers are still assessing the health consequences of inhaled or ingested particles of varying sizes and materials. Manufacturers may need to take certain precautions to avoid introducing new health hazards when using nanotechnology in their products.
A technology that has advanced in leaps and bounds over the past few years, 3D printing uses layers of composite — usually resin, plastic or silicone — to bring digital designs to life. The concept saw its first patent in 1980, but it used a complicated photopolymer that required a UV lamp to set, so it never made the production line. Several other ideas hit the patent office before 3D Systems invented the SLA-1 in 1988.
By 1999, medical applications in 3D printing allowed for the first 3D-printed organ using living cells — a urinary bladder — to become a reality. Today, the technology is seeing applications in textiles, prosthetics, dental products, hearing aids, architecture and even movie props. In the future, 3D printing could cut manufacturing costs while improving the quality of materials.
A Digital World
Advances in technology have allowed people to connect in incredible new ways, with digital platforms serving as bridges between physical locations. Telecommuting has become popular in the workforce across a broad variety of fields. It’s even transforming the way we view the classroom.
Digital breakthroughs have transformed film, television, video games, literature, telephones and even infrastructure. Today, nearly half the world has become connected via social media, but poverty and territorial issues have hindered some broader efforts. The UN hopes to transform even more lives by extending the reach and finding new ways to close the global divide between countries and cultures.
Humanity is once again ushering in a new era, but instead of relying on steam engines, developed nations now require microchips and nanoparticles. The Tech Revolution has already transformed the way people interact, do business and access the world — and it’s only just begun.
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